Historical Monuments in the Zone
We must make clear that in capitalizing on cultural tourism in the zone,one must start from the Râu de Mori commune.All that is around it only completes,enhances and highlights the evolution,destiny ,decorations and specific functional character of the monuments in that locality.Apart from them,cultural tourism,whose target and content is the Hateg Land is already consolidated by Romanian schooling of all types.
The first building of historic interest which the end-users must focus on is the very Kendeffy mansion in Râu de Mori.According to our historical information,it was first built of stone in the second half of the l5th century.At that time,that was the foremost family of gentry about those places,standing out through their fortune and social ambitions.As from the l6th century,they were known only as the Kendeffys.The building in the South-Western corner of the complex served as the Calvinist chapel of the family and their servants.The names of certain pastors are linked to it,who attempted to translate holy texts into Romanian,but with Hungarian spelling.
On the South-Eastern side,not too far away,there is the vicarage in Râu de Mori.Mentioned in documents in 1526,it has undergone several changes,thus losing its initial look.Close to its entrance,on the left hand side,flat on the ground,there is one of the most interesting tombstones in Hateg,with inscriptions on reused Roman marble,going back to 1505 and brought there from Colti Monastery.
Two kilometres away,Southwards,two remarkable monuments stand face to face in Suseni.Coltului Monastery,raised sometime between the late l4th century and the early l5th century lies very close to the river and the highway.The church stands out through two particular elements:firstly,through the location of the tower over the altar and secondly through the remains of the inside frescoes.
Across the stream,on a height watching over the entire lower course of the Râusor,there is the Coltului Fortress.After half an hour's walk,the visitor comes upon the best preserved medieval fortress in the Hateg Land and moreover,one of the best preserved noble fortresses in Transylvania.Around a tower with a square foundation,erected in the l4th century,precincts,rooms and towers were built until the l6th century.There is no other more valuable visiting card of that fortress than the one signed by Jules Verne,the novelist who immortalized it in his novel The Castle in the Carpathians.The legends related to the fortress entered the fairy-tale world too.
Also in the Râu de Mori commune,in the Ostrov village,you can see one of the newly restored churches of Hateg.Its steeple has preserved its initial l5th century shape and beneath it,in the tympanon of the entrance to the nave,there is the most remarkable testimony of frescoes in the same perimeter.Ostrov also stands out through its original cemetery fence.Originally,it was made up of nearly 300 Roman stones of all types,arranged in a genuine unique protoexhibit.
About l5 km Westwards,in Sarmizegetusa,a large number of vestiges in the capital of Roman Dacia were unearthed.Owing to the over one century-old endeavour of the archaeologists,you can visit the amphitheatre,the sacred zone with the temples of deities from the second pantheon,part of the governors'public buildings and finally,the Forum(the public square),on the archaeological site where work goes on every summer.The results of the older or newer research are all put on show in the only museum in the Hateg Land,in Sarmizegetusa.
Only 7 km Westwards,on the highway to Caransebes,between Zeicani and Bucova,visitors can be taken to the fortification system of Transylvania's Iron Gates.The ancient locality of Tapae stood there,the site of two of the famous battles between the Dacians and the Romans.The old walls were rebuilt in the Middle Ages.The customs stood there, from ancient times until the beginning of the contemporary period and for a while,the state border with the lands occupied by the Turks in Banat.
From Râu de Mori,in a nearly oblique direction,North-Westwards,passing through Ostrov,you can first reach Pesteana.Worth visiting in the village is one of the Romanian churches preserving architectonic elements from successive restoration works,starting out from one of the oldest religious edifices in Hateg.
Densus is only two kilometres away.Its name will always be linked to one of the Romanian churches turned into a myth.Hardly when you are in front of it do all the stories seem true:a surprising architectonic plane,minutely achieved,with an extravagant ingeniousness and fantasy,which could only have been displayed by a widely travelled and experienced,but extremely spontaneous craftsman.Densus must have been built in the 13th century,probably growing into a small family monastery in the l5th century.The church is one of those monuments about which you can always discover something new and wonderful.
Going in the same direction,passing through the Ciula Mica and Mare villages,after about 10 km,you reach the Rachitova commune.On the left hand side of the highway and of the rivulet of the same name,there lies the ruin of the fortress stronghold there.It was erected according to a design similar to the one of Colti,but by another noble family,the Musinesti family.
Sânpetru is situated about half-way between Râu de Mori and Sântamarie Orlea.The Romanian church there,which goes back to the l4-15th centuries,has two noteworthy portals.Its Western façade looks like a small exhibit of reused Roman pieces.
Sântamarie Orlea is a commune lying at the junction of the highway coming from Râu de Mori and the Hateg-Petrosani highway,only three kilometres far from the main town of the land(Hateg).Two historical edifices can be admired there.The oldest is the parish church,built in the late 13th century.Its interior was painted around 1311,displaying some of the most beautiful frescoes in Southern Transylvania.In the 15th century,more frescoes of a clear Eastern origin were added to its altar.This interior mix makes the church in Sântamarie one of the most original medieval monuments in the whole of Transylvania,where the Catholic and the Orthodox denominations have coexisted in a surprising synthesis.What is important is still the fact that in 1447,the locality was donated to the Cândea family in Râu de Mori,whose property it was up to the modern epoch.At the moment,the church is one of the very few Protestant churches in the Hateg Land.
The same family that became the Kendeffy family raised the stateliest noble mansion in the Hateg Land,probably on the site of an older residence in Sântamarie Orlea.It is a complex of buildings,a massive nobiliary residence,with a tower raised West of its Northern façade and with two other outhouses(the stables and the servants'house),lying Northwards,U-shaped.In the l8th century,a superb Latin inscription was laid above the entrance,testifying to the couple's love and featuring the coats of arms of the families who owned the building at the time.King Carol II of Romania,who came to hunt in the Hateg Land was one of the personalities put up in the mansion.
Subcetate lies three km North-East of the highway between Sântamarie Orlea and the town of Hateg.Close to the entrance to the locality,on a height at a 100 m difference of level,you can still see the ruins of the most important medieval fortress in Hateg.It was built in the late 13th century.Starting with the 15th century,it was the property of the same Cândea family of Râu de Mori,by the special grace of Prince Ioan of Hunedoara.Any role the fortress may have had was already lost in the first half of the 16th century.
Salasu de Sus can be reached if by the locality of Ohaba de Sub Piatra on the Hateg-Petrosani highway,you head Southwards,along the classical route to the Retezat Mountains.Four km away.immediately after the entrance to the commune,the traveller can see the ruins of a noble court.The interior walls parallel with the highway and the spire of a chapel are still left.The latter is very similar to the chapel in Râu de Mori.It belonged to the Mara family of Romanian extraction.Another local Romanian family,the Saracin family raised the church on the left hand side of the highway too,beyond the main square of the commune.The steeple of the old church is left,whose inscription above the entrance tells a brief story of the building.
Malaiesti lies another three kilometres away,on the same highway as Salasu de Sus.Leaving the asphalted road and turning left,you cross the village and get to the Malaiesti fotress.Easy to reach,it has, besides its own charm enhanced by the environment,the charm of the small fortresses built by the feudal noblemen all over Europe.Erected by the Saracin family,standing close to and socially competing with Cândestii in Râu de Mori,it still preserves elements which are worth visiting.The central house-tower is fully preserved.You can still see part of the defense wall around it,to which in the 16th century,four irregular-shaped outside towers were added,now visible only a little above the soil.
Nucsoara,neighbouring Malaiesti South-Westwards,only four kilometres away, is a village that belonged to the Cândesti estate in Râu de Mori.That modest village managed however to raise a notable parish church,preserved much better than many others.This church was painted by master mason Simion of Pitesti,Wallachia,in the last quarter of the 18th century.All the frescoes have been preserved.
Baru is situated on the DN 66 highway,25 km from Hateg,about half-way to the town of Petrosani.Having certain urban characteristics,Baru is worth visiting for one of its churches too.The Pârvestilor Church is an unusual mix of baffling elements,which actually conceal an 18th century monument.The church is still said to have been built by a family of"thieves",to thank God for having saved them.
Crivadia,four kilometres away,on the same highway to Petrosani preserves an unusual construction,that is the fortification or "the tower"as it is sometimes called incorrectly.Its circular shape,with a big diameter actually suggests a tower.It was built in the 16th century by the ruling princes of Transylvania with a view to protecting the pass and the border check point with Wallachia.It watches over both sides of the watershed.It is very similar to other such constructions defending the Turnul Rosu pass to Sibiu.
Banita lies near Petrosani,close to the watershed.The landscape mutilated by the mines cannot be recognized but through the impressive hill on which a Dacian fortress stands further used in the Middle Ages.To visit the fortress is quite a venture,due to the winding and difficult paths leading to it.